Case 1090

DATE: March 4, 2021
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. D.L.

HEARING DATE: November 19, 2020, via Zoom

Panel Members:
Ms. Alexi Wood, Chair
Professor Ernest Lam, Faculty Panel Member
Ms. Sophie Barnett, Student Panel Member

Ms. Lily Harmer, Assistant Discipline Counsel, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Ms. Novalee Davy, Representative for the Student, Downtown Legal Services
The Student

In Attendance:
Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances

The Student was charged under s. B.i.1(b) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, 1995 (the “Code”) on the basis that she knowingly used or possessed an unauthorized aid, namely, notes related to the subject matter during a midterm exam. In the alternative, the Student was charged under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code on the basis that the Student knowingly engaged in a form of cheating, academic dishonesty or misconduct, fraud or misrepresentation in order to obtain academic credit or other academic advantage in connection with the use or possession of study notes in a midterm exam.  

The parties provided a partial Agreed Statement of Facts (“ASF”), a Joint Book of Documents, as well as a Joint Submission on Penalty (“JSP”). The ASF noted that during a midterm exam for the Student’s Art History course, the teaching assistant discovered notes related to the subject matter in the Student’s lap. Both the Professor and the teaching assistant observed the Student copying from the notes. After hearing the submission of counsel for both parties as well as reviewing the ASF, the Panel accepted the guilty plea and found that the Student knowingly used or possessed an unauthorized aid, namely, notes on the subject matter contrary to section B.i.1(b) of the Code. As a result of this finding, the University withdrew the alternative charge under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code.

The parties submitted an Agreed Statement of Facts on Penalty along with their JSP. The Panel noted that a JSP should only be rejected if the penalty is contrary to the public interest or would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The Panel further noted that when there is a JSP, it is not their role to determine if it would impose the same penalty that was proposed by the parties. In this particular case, although the Panel opined that the Provost could have sought a more severe penalty, the penalty is not contrary to the public’s interest nor would it bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Therefore, the Panel accepted the penalty proposed by the JSP.

The Panel imposed the following sanctions: a final grade of zero in the course; a three-year suspension; a notation on transcript until the date of graduation; and a report to the Provost for Publication.